It’s A-Door-able

More appropriately titled, “How I paint paneled doors.”  I’ve got six finished and three more to go and I’ve learned a lesson (or two) along the way.  The first being, we have two completely different doors on the main level.  Most of which look like this:

How to Paint a Door Starting Point

But a few that look like this:

How to Paint a Door Starting Point Pine

I’m not sure what type of wood the majority of the doors are (maybe birch?) but the odd ones seem to be pine.  Not only is the wood different, making the grain drastically different (and not in a good way), but the wood is noticeably softer and easier to scratch/dent.  Oh, and the panel measurements are slightly larger.  Regardless, I start each door with a thorough-ish sanding.  To cut the dust, I tape the shop vac hose to the sander output.

How to Paint a Door Sanding

Using 120 grit paper, I cover all the flat parts.  I’ve found 120 to work best.  80 is too rough and 220 takes a while longer to get the job done.  If you’re painting, just sand until the surface looks matte.

How to Paint a Door Sanded

Some parts will need more attention, but it doesn’t take much.

How to Paint a Door Pine Sanded

For detailed parts, a coat of liquid deglosser wipes away dirt, grease, and grime, but it won’t take down the sheen.  On one door, I used Citristrip on the detailed insets.  And quickly became annoyed.  For being low odor, it worked really well.  But the wait time, scraping, and clean up with odorless mineral spirits wasn’t worth it.  Not to mention it still didn’t come off completely in some areas, so I had to scrub with liquid deglosser.  That one door took longer to finish than the previous three combined.  Simply put, unless you’re planning to re-stain, stripping the coats isn’t worth it.

In the past, I’ve followed the previous steps using traditional primer followed by two coats of paint.  Instead, I experimented with Glidden’s Duo paint (paint and primer in one).  I’ve gotta say, I love it.  Two coats and I’m done.  For the smoothest finish, I use a small angled brush to cut in the inside detail of the panels.  It helps to paint along the outside and inside flat areas at this time.

How to Paint a Door Step One

Then use a foam roller to cover the brush strokes and fill in the flat inside.

How to Paint a Door Step 2

Once all six panels are done, I start at the top painting the frame.  Horizontal first, then the three verticals, then the horizontal below, working my way down.  Keep a wet edge to blend the paint.  Applying the paint with a brush, then rolling over to cover the brush strokes allows me to work quicker because I’m not having to load up a roller each time.

How to Paint a Door Step 3

Here’s something else I learned.  To quickly and thoroughly clean out a brush, first wipe off the sides.  Then hold it upside down under running water.  Keep your hand wrapped around it to prevent the bristles from splaying out.  Hold it under until the water runs clear, wipe off the sides, squeeze out the water and let it dry.

How to Clean a Paint Brush

No more stiff, gunked up brushes because the center of the brush is clean, too.  Obviously there are dozens of ways to do the same task, so tell me, how do you do it?  What products do you love for refinishing or painting?  And how was your weekend?

6 thoughts on “It’s A-Door-able

  1. I am thinking about painting our front door black – thanks for the tips! I’ve always cleaned my brush like that – it works!

    Hope you had a great weekend too!

  2. I’m curious about the shop vac taped to the sander – I’ve got a whole kitchen worth of ugly honey oak cabinets to sand/prime/paint this winter/spring, and since it’s cold until about April here in Michigan, I will need to do the majority of the sanding/painting in our finished basement. I love the idea of controlling the dust with a shop vac! Do you turn the shop vac on while using the sander? How well does it control the dust?

    1. Hey Ashley!

      Yep, turn the shop vac on while sanding, just make sure you’ve taped the ends together well. I’ve been sanding the doors in our finished basement, too and there’s very little dust. Sanding sheet rock mud like this is a bit more messy (because the dust is so fine) but it still really cuts it down. Make sure your shop vac filter is clean before you start. If you try it, let me know what you think of it. 🙂 And happy sanding/priming/painting. It’s a pain, but I’m sure it will look great after.


  3. To clean my brushes I add a little soap to the bristles, hold the handle in one hand and the end of the bristles in the other. I then shimmy the bristles back and forth to work the soap into a lather. It’s what I was taught in art school and works well!

Now it's your turn! Share your thoughts and opinions, stories and links. We love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s